Klassik  Kammermusik Instrumental
Eight Strings Kodály - Cirri - Halvorsen - Clière OC 777 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 777
Release date02/09/2010
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Cirri, Giovanni Battista
  • Glière, Reinhold
  • Halvorsen, Johan
  • Kodály, Zoltan

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      Kodály - Cirri - Halvorsen - Clière

      Zoltan Kodály (1882–1967): Duet for Violin and Violoncello op. 7
      Giovanni Battista Cirri (1724–1808): Duet op. 12 in G Major (first recording)
      Johan Halvorsen (1864–1935): Passacaglia
      Reinhold Glière (1874–1956): Eight Duets for Violin and Violoncello op. 39

      Eight Strings: Valeria Nasushkina & Mikael Samsonov

      Zoltan Kodály’s Duet from 1914 can be considered as one of the major standard works for the combination of violin and violoncello. The duet by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Cirri, on the other hand, is a rarity, and it is now being presented on recording for the first time here. Cirri, who was himself a cellist, is known today primarily for his cello sonatas and concertos, which are frequently used as teaching material. The duet, however, is absolutely worthy of concert performance and offers a broad range of moods and sound effects.
      Reinhold Glière taught at the Moscow Conservatory; Prokofieff and Myaskovsky were among his students. He held a number of high posts in Russian cultural politics; his works embody a Russian-nationalistic style that was completely in line with socialist realism. His Eight Duets portray various musical forms and movements in charming musical miniatures.
      Moldavian violinist Valeria Nasushkina and Byelorussian-born cellist Mikael Samsonov are the Duo Eight Strings. They won prizes at the International Gaetano Zinetti Competition in 2008, the International Marco Fiorindo Chamber Music Competition in 2009 and at the International Cittá di Padova Prize Competition in 2009 as well.

      Valeria Nasushkina

      As soloist and chamber musician, Valeria Nasushkina has performed at multiple international festivals, such as the Cardiff Festival (Wales, England), Schwetzinger Festspiele, the 6th Hambacher Musikfest (Germany), the Evian Rostropovich Festival, Royaumont Festival (France) as well as in numerous prestigious Concert Halls – Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), the Tempelliaukion Hall (Helsinki), Liederhalle (Stuttgart), Alte Aula (Heidelberg) etc. The young Moldavian violinist has studied with and received high praise from the leading personalities of our days such as David Takeno, Joseph Rissin and the distinguished Alban Berg Quartet. In the course of her career, Valeria has been awarded a number of prizes, including the First prize at the National Young Artists’ Competition (USSR, 1988), Winner of the First Year String Prize (London, 1995), First prize at the Chamber Music Competition of the Kulturfonds Baden (Germany, 2002), First prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Karlsruhe (Germany, 2004), Premio “Luoghi di confine” all’eccellenza and Premio Speciale “Artists in residence” at the International “Gaetano Zinetti” Competition (Italy, 2008) and the first prize at the International “Marco Fiorindo” Competition (Torino, Italy) in 2008. Valeria Nasushkina has gained valuable experience working with such remarkable musicians as Mark Lubotsky, Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Jörg- Wolfgang Jah and Ensembles like Tokyo String Quartet and the Borodin String Quartet. She has not only received criticical acclaim in press but has also been hailed by her audiences. Valeria is continuously taking part in radio broadcasts: 2002 – Südwestrundfunk (Tchaikovsky Foundation Tübingen), 2003 – SWR2 Live Broadcast (Schwetzinger Festspiele), 2003 – Bavarian Radio (14th Oleg Kagan Music Festival Kreuth), 2005 – Radio Berlin-Brandenburg “Podium Junger Künstler”, 2009 – SWR Classic.

      “Valeria Nasushkina aroused enthusiasm by her confident and virtuoso playing. She drew miraculous full sounds of her violin and enchanted her audience already with the very first tone of her performance …”

      Stuttgarter Nachrichten

      Mikael Samsonov

      Born in Minsk (Republic of Belarus), Mikael Samsonov studied at the State Academy of Music in his hometown and was awarded a scholarship at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2004, he graduated with distinction at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart (Germany). He has been invited as soloist and chamber musician to concert halls throughout Europe, Russia and the United States, including the Megaron Hall (Athens), the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire (Russia) and the United Nations’ Hall (New York). Mikael has taken part in several international festivals: Festspiele Passau, 6th Hambach Festival, Schwetzinger Festspiele, and the 14th Kagan Music Festival Kreuth. The young cellist has been performing as soloist with orchestras such as the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Virtuosi di Praga, the Nizhni Novgorod Philharmonia Orchestra, the Minsk Philharmonic Symphony and Chamber Orchestras as well as playing the Principal Cello of the Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart, North German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, South West German Philharmonic Orchestra in Konstanz and Wuerttemberg Philharmonic Orchestra. In the course of his professional career, Mikael Samsonov has been awarded a number of prizes, including the first prize at the All-Union Cello Competition (USSR, 1989), first prize at the “Concertino Praga” International Competition in Prague (Czech Republic, 1991), special prize at the “Leonard Rose” International Cello Competition (USA, 1997), first prize at the Chamber Music Competition of the Kulturfonds Baden (Germany, 2002), first prize at the International Chamber Music Competition in Karlsruhe (Germany, 2004), Premio “Luoghi di confine” all’eccellenza and Premio Speciale “Artists in residence” at the International “Gaetano Zinetti” Competition (Verona, Italy) and the first prize at the International “Marco Fiorindo” Competition (Torino, Italy) in 2008.

      Between pure art, education, and adaptation
      On the duo for violin and cello: Kodály, Cirri, Halvorsen, and Glière

      Perhaps it really is significant that, in his three-volume work of 1782–93 Versuch einer Anleitung zur Composition, Heinrich Christoph Koch describes the flute duos of Georg Philipp Telemann and Johann Joachim Quantz as the first original instrumental duos, on the basis of their contrapuntal arrangements. In fact, it was Arcangelo Corelli and Johann Sebastian Bach who set genre-defining standards in chamber music. Corelli, for instance, took the trio and the violin sonata to new creative heights, but also defined them for posterity in exemplary style. These were the two key genres of chamber music in the era of the basso continuo.

      Bach, on the other hand, was the key innovator when it came to the sonata for melody instruments without continuo, though with cembalo. However, the duo without continuo is an almost unique genre, and it is very difficult to understand its development. This is because we just do not have any great key works from the early period to use as models, and there are also few leading personalities to have taken on the duo. This brings us back to the uniqueness of the genre itself – the extreme restriction and reduction of the instrumentation is a big challenge to the composer. For this reason, Duo op. 7 for violin and cello by Zoltán Kodály must count as one of the great works, and one that also enriches chamber music as a whole. It was written in 1913 and first performed in 1918.

      Kodály’s unusual tonal and harmonic integration of the voices and the medium is ample evidence of his creative originality. One significant factor influencing Kodály’s three-movement work was his own field work in ethnomusicology. From 1905 onward Kodály, himself a violinist, was one of the first people to study the folk music of his native Hungary. Starting in 1906, he published several volumes of the results and sources of the research, together with Béla Bartók. Listen if you will to the final movement, where you will hear a verbunkos mood, which was later to characterize the main movement of Bartók’s 1938 Contrasts for violin, clarinet, and piano, or his Violin Concerto No. 2 from 1930/31.

      This Hungarian dance and musical style evolved in the 18th century and was originally played when recruiting soldiers. The Sinti and Roma had a major influence on the verbunkos. What is also particularly striking is the distinctive pentatonic (five-tone) scale, which the French Impressionists also exploited. We can therefore hear in the Duo op. 7 a preliminary study for Kodály’s 1917 essay Pentatonik in der ungarischen Volksmusik (The Pentatonic Scale in Hungarian Folk Music). Above all, however, in 1914 this work heralded an exciting renaissance for the serious duo; the duos that had prevailed in the 19th century were written primarily for teaching purposes. Prior to that, adaptations of catchy tunes from the opera were particularly popular. The Norwegian Johan Halvorsen continued the tradition with his 1894 work Passacaglia on a theme by Handel.

      Of course Halvorsen – who was also concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and was married to Edvard Grieg’s niece – is not adapting a popular opera tune here. However, the final Passacaglia from Suite No. 7 in G minor (HWV 432 I/7) for piano by Georg Friedrich Handel is always succinct. In his duo, Halvorsen’s variations on the theme show that the praise he received for his sense of instrumentation was well founded – the violin and cello lines intermingle with such virtuosity that in places one could easily imagine one was listening to a string quartet. By contrast, for Reinhold Glière there was only disdain, and it came not only from the leading Soviet music theorists Boris Assafyev and Ivan Sollertinsky, but also from Dmitri Shostakovitch.

      As a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, Glière was held in high esteem. His best known pupils were Sergei Prokofiev and Nikolai Myaskovsky. On the other hand, in 1954 Shostakovitch described Glière’s compositional output as “large-scale production planning.” Assafyev is even more explicit in his 1930 paper Music in Russia. He cites Glière as having an “easy manner about his composing,” a “complete lack of anything distinctive,” and an “indifference to artistic progress.” Glière was a talented eclectic, he said – though his chamber music comes off much better.

      The latter showed a “thorough acquisition of rational principles in texture and form,” a “command of thematic development,” and an “ability one does not often see to drive the sound of the ensemble most favorably.” This is also true for the Eight Duos op. 39, which reflect different forms and types of movement – even if Glière’sV iolin Duo op. 49 does represent a more weighty contribution to the genre. On the other hand, whether the Duo op. 12 No. 4 by Giovanni Battista – or Giambattista – Cirri can be counted among the didactic pieces is a matter of doubt. To be sure, Cirri was himself a cellist and is known today mainly for his cello sonatas and cello concertos. His works have been used mainly as teaching pieces, and remain almost completely unknown to concert audiences.

      However, the Italian from Forlì did receive the rare honor of being allowed to perform one of his symphonies at the “Concert Spirituel” in Paris. That was in 1763. Apart from Paris, Cirri also worked in London. His Duo op. 12 No. 4 is part of a six-part series of works. Alexander Feinland also published it in his collection Three Duets from the 18th century, calling it “Duet op. 5.” It is also a matter of some doubt whether this work was in fact composed for his own use – the slow middle movement is full of bold voice lead ing, cleverly invented melody, and the highly original fusion of different, sometimes even contrary, characteristics. No less impressive are the sudden deviations into the minor key in the final rondo and the melancholic playing in the bridge.

      Florian Olters
      Translation: tolingo translations

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • Zoltan Kodály (1882–1967)
        Duo for Violin and Cello op. 7
        • 1.llegro serioso non troppo07:59
        • 2.Adagio07:55
        • 3.Maestoso e largamente, ma non troppo lento – Presto08:27
      • Giovanni Battista Cirri (1724–1808)
        Duo op. 12 in G major (World Premiere Recording)
        • 4.Allegro con brio03:24
        • 5.Adagio (Cadenzas by Eight Strings)04:18
        • 6.Rondo – Allegro (Cadenzas by Eight Strings)03:14
      • Johan Halvorsen (1864–1935)
        • 7.Passacaglia after Händel’s Suite No. 7 in G minor06:22
      • Reinhold Glière (1874–1956)
        Eight Duos for Violin and Cello op. 39
        • 8.Prélude01:42
        • 9.Gavotte02:02
        • 10.Lullaby02:38
        • 11.Canzonetta02:01
        • 12.Intermezzo01:50
        • 13.Impromptu01:48
        • 14.Scherzo02:53
        • 15.Etude01:11
      • Total:57:44